Asian Stocks Climb as Investors Await Federal Reserve Statement

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Asian stocks rose for a second day before a Federal Reserve meeting at which officials will assess the economy and debate the timing of the first U.S. interest-rate increase since 2006.

Nintendo Co. shares, which were untraded during the day, jumped 21 percent in a closing auction in Tokyo after the company said it will team up with DeNA Co. to develop games for mobile devices. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. advanced 3 percent as the Taiex Index increased the most in two months. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. tumbled 5.3 percent in Sydney after the fourth-largest iron ore exporter pulled plans to refinance some of its debt with a $2.5 billion bond, citing volatile U.S. credit markets and a failure to achieve the terms it wanted.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6 percent to 145.66 as of 4:11 p.m. in Hong Kong, poised for a two-week high, ahead of the Fed’s interest rate decision and policy statement due Wednesday. Almost 90 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict officials will drop the “patient” pledge from their statement.

“This event has the potential to set the tone across all markets globally,” said Will Leys, Sydney-based sales trader at CMC Markets Ltd. “Ultimately, it all boils down to a matter of timing - when will the Fed commence the tightening cycle. The recent behavior of markets suggest that later is the preference, despite the fundamental contradiction.”

Some 45 percent of the economists saw the language change as a step toward a June increase in rates, which have been held near zero since December 2008, according to the poll of 49 respondents conducted March 12 and 13. Thirty-seven percent saw rates rising in September.

Japan, China

Japan’s Topix index added 0.8 percent. Data showed the nation’s exports rose more than economists predicted in February compared with the previous year, while imports unexpectedly declined.

Chinese shares rose to the highest level since May 2008 amid greater-than-average turnover as financial companies and commodity producers gained on speculation the government will do more to bolster growth. The Shanghai Composite gained 2.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.9 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city added 1.2 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi index slipped 0.1 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed little changed. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index retreated 1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slid 0.2 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex rose 1.2 percent.

Nintendo will team up with DeNA, operator of the Mobage network, to create games and operate new membership services that include applications based on Nintendo’s character lineup of plumbers, gorillas and princesses. Bank of Kyoto Ltd., the fifth-largest investor in Nintendo, surged as much as 19 percent, the biggest intraday gain since 1990. DeNA, which was untraded during Wednesday trading, also soared 21 percent in the closing auction.